Tuesday, May 24, 2011

@crimelabproject notes - if you think that forensic science suffers from delays, check journalism

I subscribe to the Crime Lab Project newsletter, and it recently shared an interesting story.

In a recent issue, the newsletter highlighted a May 16, 2011 story in the Wichita Eagle entitled "Top forensics lab botched DNA tests, audit finds." The story, originally written by Steve Mills of the Chicago Tribune with contributions by Tribune correspondent Flynn McRoberts, discusses the case of Earl Washington Jr., who spent 17 years on death row in Virginia before being exonerated. The article includes references to Peter Neufeld, Virginia Governor Mark Warner, and former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore.

Virginia residents may know where this is going.

The Wichita Eagle allows comments on its articles, and George Schiro posted one that began as follows:

Wichita Eagle, you are about six years late in reporting this story.

Schiro then linked to the original article - dated May 8, 2005.

This elicited a comment from northrock:

Pesky stage coach robbers shot out the telegraph lines again!

So what has happened since then? Mark Warner left the Governor's office in 2006 and is now a U.S. Senator. His successor, Governor Timothy M. Kaine, granted Washington a full pardon in 2007. At the time, Washington was working as a maintenance man in Virginia Beach, Virginia. And Steve Mills is still writing for the Chicago Tribune (here's a recent article on an autism drug gone sour).
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